Summary: Nearly everyone says that when they die they want to go to “heaven” where they expect to live an eternally blissful existence, but as the Lord has explained, in order to live with God a person has to be willing to abide by the laws of that kingdom. The problem is that most people don’t know what those laws are. This article examines the laws of heaven and what we must do in order to keep them.
The Lord has revealed that “All kingdoms have a law given; And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or lesser kingdom. And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions… He who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory. and he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore, he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore, he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory (D&C 88:36, 37,22-24)
Nearly everyone says that when they die they want to go to “heaven” to live with God because it is said that everyone there is happy and filled with joy. Since everyone wants to be happy they imagine that regardless of how they lived their life they will live an eternal blissful, happy existence if they go to heaven. To members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the place where God lives is known as the celestial kingdom but as the Lord has explained, in order to live with God a person has to be willing to abide by the laws of that kingdom. The problem is that most people don’t know what those laws are and even most members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have only a general or superficial knowledge of those laws and spend very little time contemplating them.
President Ezra Taft Benson has explained, “Until one abides by the laws of obedience, sacrifice, the gospel, and chastity, he cannot abide the law of consecration, which is the law pertaining to the Celestial kingdom.”
In this one short statement, President Benson mentions five different laws that those who wish to dwell in the celestial kingdom must keep. The first is the law of obedience. This is understood to mean that we are willing to do whatever God asks of us. Unfortunately, when God asks us to do something, some people procrastinate or don’t do as asked, or they do it half-heartedly. However, the law of obedience as practiced in the celestial kingdom means that we do whatever God asks with our whole heart and soul, with all diligence, and following his orders exactly. For most of us living here in mortality, that would be a hard thing to do because most of us have trouble being faithful in keeping even some of the simple commandments, such as reading our scriptures every day. In heaven, those who can’t keep the law of obedience to perfection will soon find themselves being very unhappy living there.
The second law that President Benson mentions is the law of sacrifice. This one is a little harder to understand, let alone live. To sacrifice something means to give up something we like for something we like better. For example, most of us don’t like getting up early in the morning to go to work, but we willingly sacrifice sleeping in late because the money we make at our jobs is something we desire more than sleep. In the same way, people are willing to give up their money in order to buy the things they desire more than having that money sitting in their bank account.
Here on earth, in the Church of Jesus Christ, the Lord expects those who worship him to sacrifice, or give up, some of their time to serve him, to give up some of their money in the form of tithing and fast offerings, to put forth some of their physical energy in helping to build up his kingdom, and to give up doing some of the things that we once enjoyed, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and watching certain kinds of movies.
But even though we may be willing to sacrifice doing many of these things, we still have a strong tendency to hesitate sacrificing everything we have in just doing some of the simple things God asks of us. As such we tend to put limits on our sacrifices to God, but in the celestial kingdom there are no limits. Those who live there are expected to sacrifice all that they have in serving God forever.
The Lord has explained, “For if you will that I give you place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you” (D&C 78:7). In the celestial kingdom to properly keep this commandment will require a great deal of sacrifice on our part. In its ultimate form it requires us to totally sacrifice our will to God’s. If we can’t do that while living in heaven it won’t be long before we will find ourselves wanting to live somewhere else.
The next law that President Benson mentions is the law of the gospel. The word “gospel” is a Greek word which means “good news,” and the good news is that Jesus has provided a way whereby our sins can be forgiven and has made it possible for us to live in heaven with him. But for that to happen there are a number of things we have to do or laws we have to observe or keep. These include having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of our sins, being baptized by someone having divine authority to perform that ordinance, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, receiving the priesthood and temple ordinances, etc.
For example, there is an eternal law which states that anyone born into mortality must be baptized for a remission of their sins. No matter how good a life someone may live, if they have not been baptized, they cannot inherit the kingdom of God. There is another eternal law that says that a person must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost because, without it, they cannot truly be saved (for a better understanding of this principle, see The Gift of the Holy Ghost ). Repentance is another law of the gospel, which means that even if a person has been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, if they don’t repent of their sins they cannot be saved.
In order for someone to inherit the highest degree of the celestial kingdom they must also take upon themselves the ordinances and covenants that are administered in the House of the Lord and they must be faithful in keeping them. Without obeying all of these eternal laws no one can inherit all that the Father has.
Joseph Smith taught that we cannot be saved in ignorance, but he wasn’t talking about being ignorant about mathematics, or astronomy, or the principles of farming. If we are ignorant of the laws that govern the gospel of Jesus Christ then we cannot obtain salvation. Thus, the law of the gospel pertains to all those laws and ordinances that must be kept in order for us to be saved into the kingdom of God.
The next law that President Benson mentions is the law of chastity. Although this law is well understood to mean that men and women are to refrain from engaging in all kinds of sexual activity unless they have been properly married to each other as a husband and wife, there is more to this law than first meets the eye.
It is clearly understood that heaven is a place of complete righteousness and all acts of immorality are unrighteous by their very nature, and this applies to sexual activity outside of marriage, but why? The answer to this question comes from having a correct understanding of the purpose of sex.
The most obvious purpose is for the creating and bringing forth of children into this world. One of the first commandments God gave to Adam and Eve was “to multiply and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Without children being born, the plan of salvation would be frustrated because there are millions upon millions of spirit beings who are anxiously waiting for their opportunity to come to earth and learn the lessons necessary to become like their Father in heaven that can only be learned here on this physical, fallen world. But they can only come here if there are physical bodies made for them to inhabit.
It is true that unmarried women can have a baby, but the gospel of Jesus Christ calls for children to be reared in a loving home with a mother and father where they are nurtured in and taught the principles of righteousness. Thus, anything that prevents that plan from being implemented is working against the righteous designs of God.
But having a sexual relationship between a husband and wife has a higher purpose than just bringing children into the world. If that wasn’t so, then engaging in such an intimate activity should only happen when there is the possibility of conception. For example, once the egg of a woman has been fertilized, it is impossible for her to become pregnant again while a fetus is growing inside her womb. And, in nearly all cases, even after a child has been born, it takes a woman’s body sometime before she is ready to conceive again. If we say that sexual activity is only for the purpose of having children, then we would have to say that a husband and wife should forego such activity until the woman is capable of being fertilized again, but clearly, that is not what happens, and there is a good, and righteous reason why.
The reason why sexual intimacy between a husband and wife is called “love making” is because it is the most intimate and personal way two people can show their love, caring, and compassion towards one another at the same time. Under the gospel’s plan, marriage is meant to last forever, which means that husbands and wives can be together as a married couple throughout all of eternity. But no man or woman wants to spend eternity with a spouse they fight and quarrel with, therefor, one of the primary purposes of sexual intimacy is to help bond husbands and wives together in love. (For a greater understanding of this principle see Marital Intimacy )
Chastity can also be defined as sexual fidelity to one’s marriage vows. Therefore, when a man or a woman breaks that vow, it has a devastating effect upon their marital relationship and, in many cases, it can destroy it. It also has a devastating effect upon the children of that couple. When that happens, it destroys God’s plan for the happiness of his children by denying them the chance to be a loving and righteous husband and wife forever. Thus, chastity is an eternal law of heaven that must always be kept with strict obedience.
Then President Benson added one more law of heaven, but this time he prefaced it with a comment. He said, “Unless one abides by [these four other laws first] he cannot abide the law of consecration.” In other words, if we are not able to first live any one of the laws he has already mentioned, then it is not possible for that person to live the law of consecration. But before we can understand why we first need to understand what this law is all about.
Simply put, this law requires us to deed over all of our material property to the church and then the church authorities determine how much we are entitled to receive back to manage as stewards. Since the church would then be the rightful owner of these goods, we would become answerable to the church for how we managed their property. (see D&C 42:32; 51:3,4).
This is how this law would work in an earthly environment, but if this is a celestial law, meaning this is the law people who dwell in the celestial kingdom have to obey, then how would we live it in heaven?
The first thing we have to understand is that God created this earth and so everything on it belongs to him. We merely take what he has given us and reshape it into whatever use we want to make of it. For example, God made the trees but man can cut down the trees and form them into a house, or furniture, or musical instruments. Even our health comes from the food we eat and that food comes from God. Since money is something man has invented as a way to help him better exchange goods and services between one another, it is merely a man-made method used for simplifying our commercial activity but, in reality, there is no such thing as money. So, everything we have ultimately comes from God, in one manner or another.
Even our life here on earth was given to us by God, and we are accountable to him for what we do with it. As such, we will be judged not only for all of our actions, but even the words we speak (Matthew 12:36-37). Therefore, the idea of being stewards over God’s property is something we are already doing, except we don’t think of it in those terms. Instead, most people tend to think of what they have as belonging exclusively to them and the idea that they have to give God anything is seen as giving away their own personal possessions.
However, the closer we draw to God the more we come to appreciate King Benjamin’s words when he said, “that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:21). Therefore, under the law of consecration, we use all that we have, or dedicate, commit, pledge, and devote all that we have to helping God build up his kingdom.
That is the attitude of those who live in the celestial kingdom and it is based on a feeling of pure gratitude for all that God has given them. When we consider that God first loved us so much that he willingly gave his only begotten Son to die so that we might live, we should be so eternally grateful for such a wondrous gift, that we would willingly give all that we have in serving him, knowing that we could never repay him for what he has already done for us.
For this reason, those who live in the celestial kingdom willingly live the law of consecration, whereby they find joy in serving God with all of their heart, mind, and strength. And the only reward they look for is to hear their master say to them, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” In other words, their joy comes from pleasing their Master.
But in order to have this kind of an attitude, a person must first find joy in being obedient to everything God asks of them, and they must be willing to sacrifice all that they have in order to be with God, and are willing to submit themselves to all the requirements necessary to be saved, and to live chaste, righteous, godly lives. If a person is lacking in living any of these laws they will find it hard, and perhaps even impossible, to live the law of consecration because to do that takes a total commitment to glorifying God.
The purpose of the law of consecration is to help build up the kingdom of God on the earth and we usually think that means here in mortality, but God’s work doesn’t end when we are resurrected, and neither does his kingdom. God is eternal and so is his work, therefore, those who inherit the kingdom of God after the resurrection, become even more dedicated than they are now to helping God as he continues to build his kingdom throughout the eternities.
But if those who live in the celestial kingdom are required to live the law of consecration, and God lives in the celestial kingdom, does that mean that he too must live this law? The answer is, yes! But if that is true, then to whom does he dedicate all of his time, talents, energies, and resources, and to whom is he held accountable? To learn the answer to that question, all we need do is to learn what God does.
The Lord revealed to Moses, “This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Those who dedicate or consecrate themselves to God do so for the express purpose of glorifying him. This is what the scriptures mean when it talks about having an eye single to the glory of God (D&C 82:19). But God is equally dedicated to consecrating all that he has to serving us for our glory.
God uses his powers to create earths for the express purpose of giving his children the opportunity to learn how to become more like him. God watches over us continually and has provided a means whereby everyone will have the chance to hear and accept the gospel. He has sent prophets to teach us how to become more righteous and worthy to live with him in heaven. In short, everything God does has one purpose to it – to provide a way that all of his children can become immortal and have the opportunity to gain eternal life. That’s all that God does, and he does this because he has an eye that is singularly focused on our glory.
But if we are accountable to God as stewards over his possession and will be judged by him, then who is he answerable to? In other words, who or what judges God as to how well he serves us, and if he does it with all of his heart, mind, and strength, with an eye single to our glory? It is this question that illustrates why the law of consecration is so important to obey.
The laws of the celestial kingdom are eternal, which means that they cannot be changed ever, by anyone. As the Lord has explained, “He who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.” Therefore, anyone – including God – who doesn’t live according to all the laws that govern the celestial kingdom cannot be permitted to dwell there and must therefore live in a different kingdom where the laws are not as strict.
God doesn’t answer to any person for his actions, but he is just as subject to the laws of the celestial kingdom as everyone else. Should he choose to violate those laws, even in the least degree, he would cease to be God and would be unable to remain in the celestial kingdom. This is no different than someone who violates the law of gravity, or misuses the law governing fire, or the laws of electricity. The law itself will administer its own consequences. For example, if a person puts their hand in a hot flame of fire, or gets struck by lightning, they will get burned, and it doesn’t matter if that person is rich or poor, king or slave, male or female, wicked or extremely righteous. The consequence will always be exactly the same.
And this principle applies to God. Should he choose to violate the laws of the celestial kingdom the consequences would be swift and powerful. As he himself explained, if he behaved in a manner that was “in any degree of unrighteousness, behold the heavens [would] withdraw themselves… and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man” (D&C 121:37). It is his priesthood that allows our Father in heaven to be God. Therefore, if he wants to continue being God than he too must abide by the law of consecration.
The reason why our Father in heaven is God, and can live in the celestial kingdom, is precisely because he is willing to abide by all the laws that govern that kingdom. And if we want to live there with him then we too must learn to live according to all the laws of heaven.
Related articles can be found at The Nature of Covenants and Principles of Exaltation